Monday, August 15, 2011

How I rank 'em in the The Sports Network/ Preseason FCS Top-25 poll

I've been a voter in The Sports Network/ Preseason FCS Top-25 poll for many years and I take my ballot very seriously as this poll is one of the things considered in determining both at-large bids and seeding in the FCS Playoffs.  I feel very good about my 2011 preseason ballot in that I picked 23 of the top 25, 17 of the top 20, 12 of the top 15, nine of the top ten and four of the top five.  Here is the actual Preseason Poll.

I'm excited to see the Big Sky Conference getting four teams in the preseason top-25 and as you can see on my ballot, I was one of 90 voters to give the defending national champion Eastern Washington Eagles a #1 pick.  Big Sky Conference newcomers (in the 2012 season) Southern Utah came in at #31, Cal Poly at #33 and UC Davis at #43.  That should erase any question marks about the quality of those teams coming into the Sky.   

NAU coming off a 6-5 season in 2010, comes in at #50 in the preseason poll.  The Lumberjacks will get a chance to dazzle the voters (myself included) October 8th in the renovated Skydome when they host the runaway preseason #1 team in the Eagles of Eastern Washington University, which is coming off a 13-2 run to the FCS title last season.  The Eagles boast EIGHT players on the Big Sky Preseason All-Conference Team.  The Lumberjacks meanwhile, will have a new starting quarterback and placed a Big Sky best four players on the preseason offensive team.  Keep an eye on Flagstaff, NAU has six home games for the first time since 2004 and the Jacks host both Montana and Eastern Washington in the new Skydome.

#6 (#5 on my ballot) Montana State (a team NAU soundly defeated in Flagstaff last season), has the Big Sky's Preseason Offensive Player of the Year in quarterback DeNarius McGhee who captured last season's Newcomer of the Year and Co-MVP awards.  The Bobcats will be looking to show last year's disappointing end to the season in the first round of the FCS Playoffs was a fluke.  

Crashing the FCS Top-25 party this preseason are the Hornets of Sacramento State.  The Hornets may have lost five games last season, but they lost four of those five games by a combined eleven points!  The Hornets break into the presseason top-25 at #24 (#15 on my ballot) and they're in the preseason Top-25 for the first time since the team moved up to the FCS (I-AA) level.  This is a very exciting time to be a part of the Green and Gold and that is also exciting for the Big Sky.

The always dangerous and conference championship contending Montana Grizzlies, had a very unusal place last November/December, on the sidelines of the FCS Playoffs for the first time in 18 years!  The Griz 17 year postseason run included two national championships and five national runners-up finishes! Montana has been the absolute gold-standard in not only the Big Sky Conference, but in all of the FCS.  It felt very odd not having the Griz in the postseason party last year. Second year Head Coach Robin Pflugrad and his staff are certaintly laser-focused on not only improving upon last year's 7-4 record, but starting another Big Sky Conference football championship streak.  The Grizzlies before last season had won outright or shared a record 12 consecutive Big Sky championships!  Montana will get a chance to show the voters where they stand in 2011 by the end of only their fourth game as they will have faced #33 Cal Poly, #1 Eastern Washington and #24 Sacramento State in consecutive weeks after opening at FBS Tennessee.  I'm certain Griz Nation will have high expectations in 2011.

The start of the college football season is less than three weeks away!  The excitement is building rapidly all across the Big Sky Conference.  I enjoy sharing my top-25 ballot each season and love the debate it triggers.  That's part of what makes college football so special to so many of us.  

NAU Lumberjack Football kicks off Sepember 3rd at the University of Arizona Wildcats in Tucson!  Pregame coverage begins at 6:05 PM on 105.1 FM, and on your smart phones with your free app for iPhone, Droid and Blackberry. 

I present to you my preseason Top-25 ballot.  Let the debate begin!

1 Eastern Washington
2 William & Mary
3 Georgia Southern
4 Appalachian State
5 Montana State
6 Delaware
7 Northern Iowa
8 Wofford
9 Jacksonville State
10 Richmond
11 Lehigh
12 New Hampshire
13 North Dakota State
14 McNeese State
15 Sacramento State
16 Chattanooga
17 Montana
18 Liberty
19 Villanova
20 Southern Illinois
21 Massachusetts
22 Jacksonville
23 Indiana State
24 Central Arkansas
25 Stephen F. Austin

Friday, July 15, 2011

Lumberjack Talk: Q&A with Andre Luciano

What has the success of the USA National team done for the sport of women’s soccer?
First and foremost, the success of the USA National team has created a totally new audience. The quarterfinal win and the way it was won has brought a new appreciation for the sport and new type of fan to the game. It exposes the visibility of the national team and our sport as well.

How does it relate with the run by the 1999 US team to the championship?
I think it is totally different because there is so much more media exposure with the social networking sites, blogs and the amount of internet visibility for the game. The viewership has gone up dramatically. In 1999, it was an up-and-coming sport. The number of women’s sports teams that played Division I, II and III versus now it is a completely different animal.

How does that translate into fans at Lumberjack Stadium?
I think Flagstaff’s community is very in tune to what goes on not only with our program but following the national team. It is great having camp and having kids walking about with the jerseys of national team players and their favorite players. I hope it translates into an overall appreciation for the sport and the women’s game. There was huge spike in number of terms of people going to games after 1999 win and WUSA was developed. I am hoping this World Cup run and hopefully a win will add to more exposure for the WPS.

You coached USA goalkeeper Hope Solo in Washington. Tell us about that experience.
I was able to work with Hope on the Washington Olympic Development Program (ODP) East team back in 1995 and 1996. Hope was a brilliant goalkeeper but people forget she was an All-American forward.  She is a very, very talented individual and extremely athletic player. Right now she is the face and the poster girl for US soccer.  I am not sure if I had anything to do with her success but it has been fun watching her grow up, her career at Washington and watch her develop as a professional. She has come through her struggles and been extremely successful.

What is your prediction for the winner on Sunday?
My prediction is I think the game will be won in the midfield and who takes control of the game will win. I want to the US to win but Japan is a very good opponent who is playing with a huge cause behind them after the earthquakes and the tsunami. They are playing with a lot of national pride and are probably the hottest team in the tournament. Whoever wins the midfield will win the game.

The Northern Arizona women's soccer team and Taverna Greek Grill will host a viewing party for the Women's World Cup Championship game between the United States and Japan on Sunday. Fans can join the NAU women's soccer coaches and players as well as other members of the Northern Arizona athletic department in watching the Americans play for their third Women's World Cup title. Doors will open at 11 a.m. with kickoff slated for just after 11:30.

Friday, June 24, 2011

NAU Stands Tall with Andreassen and Department's Academic Achievements

By Steve Shaff, Assistant AD/Media Relations
NAU soccer standout Kristi Andreassen.

As a member of the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-America committee, I got my ballot for the Academic All-America® Team Member of the Year yesterday. For the second straight year a Lumberjack student-athlete was on the ballot and I was very proud.

I have served on the Academic All America committee since 1994 and been the SID at NAU since 2000. CoSIDA began this program in the 1950's, and since then, has honored thousands of deserving student-athletes from numerous sports and across all divisions with these elite Capital One Academic All-America® scholar-athlete honors.

I joined the committee to honor my former boss at Florida, John Humenik, who was one of the early supporters of the program, and push our top student-athletes each year for the status of Academic All-American.

Currently, CoSIDA honors Academic All-Americans in 12 sports. Soccer’s Kristi Andreassen, who is from Tempe, Ariz., earned the distinction as the Academic All-American of the Year for women’s soccer this fall. She followed in the footsteps of track standout David McNeill, who earned the honor in his sport in 2010. It is a great honor to be an Academic All-American but to be named the “Best of the Best” in her sport is special territory.

She is well deserved and has continued to pile on the list of awards during her senior season. She is a 2011 NCAA Postgraduate recipient and NAU’s NCAA Women of the Year nominee after earning Athlete of the Year and Golden Eagle Scholar-Athlete of the Year accolades on campus.

To fully appreciate the magnitude of the accomplishment takes another look at the ballot.

She is on the ballot against the best in each sport in college sports. She has some great company including household names like Butler’s Matt Howard, who led his team to back-to-back Final Four’s, Alabama’s Greg McElroy and Connecticut’s Maya Moore, one of the top collegiate basketball players of all time. There are also student-athletes from Stanford, Brigham Young and Oregon. Eight of the 12 are from BCS schools.

As Andreassen proudly puts Northern Arizona on the ballot, she represents a department that has academics at the forefront of its mission. The Lumberjacks recorded a cumulative grade point average of 3.05 GPA among its more than 300 student-athletes at the completion of the spring semester.  The positive grade report comes after a semester that produced a school-record fifty-five student-athletes participating in spring commencement ceremonies. NAU also recently had all 15 sponsored sports are exceeding NCAA academic standards in the Academic Progress Report.

NAU is doing it right. In today’s collegiate world, it is rare.

1.Matt Howard, Butler
2.Kristi Andreassen, Northern Arizona
3. Maya Moore, Connecticut

Reigning University Division Academic All-Americans of the Year
Matt Howard, Butler (Men's Basketball)
Kristi Andreassen, Northern Arizona (Women's Soccer)
Ashley Brignac, Louisiana (Softball)
Alex Klineman, Stanford (Volleyball)
Matt Rice, Western Kentucky (Baseball)
Miles Batty, Brigham Young (Men's Track/Cross Country)
Maya Moore, Connecticut (Women's Basketball)
Kofi Sarkodie, Akron (Men's Soccer)
Kayla Hoffman, Alabama (Women's At-Large)
Nick Amuchastegui, Stanford (Men's At-Large)
Greg McElroy, Alabama (Football)
Jordan Hasay, Oregon (Women's Track/Cross Country)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

NFL Lockout Reaches NAU and Flagstaff

Arizona Cardinals Training Camp in Flagstaff could be
in jeopardy if the NFL lockout persists.

By Steve Shaff, NAU Media Relations

When the NFL lockout first happened, the possibility of the season being affected was not on my radar. Sure, there was a chance but I thought the owners and players would come to an agreement before anything seriously was affected. I was wrong.

The season is going to be in jeopardy unless the two sides start compromising. While the players and owners will be losing millions daily, I will be the one getting checks from the Cardinals for the missed games in my $750 season ticket package.

The lockout extends to the City of Flagstaff in ways other than my personal seats.

As I watched the Northern Arizona football program conduct a high school skills camp today at the practice fields, I realized that the popular Cardinal training camp on campus might not happen if the lockout persists.

The three weeks of practices and national attention to the NAU campus are priceless. It is a special place – the practice fields. Sports Illustrated has listed it among the top five training camps in the league and the magazine has featured the camp in its Leading Off section twice recently for the beauty of the site.

I would miss the opportunity to watch the state’s team up-close at training camp in Flagstaff outside my office door (I work in the Walkup Skydome). Training Camp is one of the city’s top attractions in the summer and I believe the team will likely stay down in Tempe if the lockout is not resolved with more delays for a deal.

It will be a big loss for Flagstaff. Having the Cardinals in my backyard is fun. The opportunity to see Derek Anderson at my favorite Mexican restaurant or pass Larry Fitzgerald on the floor of the Dome will not happen this season.

But the lockout has had another unexpected victim – the hundreds of college football players who have been denied or at least postponed the chance to pursue their dreams as an NFL free agent.

Lumberjack quarterback Michael Herrick, safety Matt Estrada and wide receiver Daiveun Curry-Chapman worked out for the scouts in April hoping to make an impression. After not being drafted, the next chance lied in free agency. But all NFL signings has been on hold, so they are left to workout and wait.

NAU has had seven players sign with NFL teams as free agents since 2000. Former linebacker Keith O’Neil (left) parlayed that opportunity into a nice little career and a Super Bowl ring. K.J. Gerard was with the Bears last year during the playoffs and awaits a chance to make the team this year.

Selfishly, I want to see NFL football but these players are denied much more. Sure they still might get a chance but it will be a rushed experience that will limit their true opportunities after the lockout.

My message – end the lockout soon. I want to see the NFL this season and give a few players a chance to live their dreams.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Pollgate: I’d Do it Again!

By Mike Adras, Northern Arizona Men’s Basketball Coach

NAU Head Coach Mike Adras talks to ESPN.
On Tuesday, April 5, Northern Arizona Head Coach Mike Adras voted Ohio State the top team in the final USA Today/Coaches Poll, giving the Buckeyes the lone vote not cast for national champion Connecticut. The vote brought national attention to Adras and his basketball program and University. Adras was featured on ESPN SportsCenter, The Doug Gottlieb Show, ESPN's First Take, Mike and Mike in the Morning, The Steve Phillips Show (Sirius XM), The Robert Wuhl Show, and radio stations in Baltimore, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Columbus and Connecticut.

I would do it again! I felt like I voted with a good conscience and did what I felt was right. I still feel that way regardless of what others feel.

There have been people of both sides of the fence both positive and negative. I certainly agree with their view points, some of them made great points. Some of them are very juvenile with their comments and you disregard those. I look at it like I did what I thought was right.

I did not expect anything. From the moment my sports information director Steve Shaff came into my office, the only thing I thought was, ‘Did I do something that was going to offend USA Today’. I did not want to make them look bad in this whole thing. Whether I did or not, I deal with that all the time. I did not want to embarrass USA Today. After we spoke with them, I thought it was over. My SID thought it would be something else. By that evening it had become crazy and bizarre and wild.

A lot more people learned about Northern Arizona University whether they wanted to or not. I really believe over the course of the next three days and all the various media that we spoke to, including those that felt initially that they did not agree with what I did, by the end of doing interviews with them I think they warmed up to the idea. Maybe they did not fully agree but I think they understood much better where I was coming from than the initial release would have indicated.

I did not need all the emails I received. It was distracting from the job that I have because of the requests and what not. I am disappointed in some of the hatred that was shown for someone expressing their opinion. This is a democracy and everyone is entitled to their opinion.  You do not have to agree with everybody. It was the one thing that saddened me that people would write such evil things. They do not know who I am or anything about me. I cannot imagine that one person’s vote ruined so many people’s lives that very day. That is comical to me.

It was great to talk about our basketball program. It was great to talk about our University and I appreciate those that gave me the opportunity.

The consensus question was whether there should be a poll at the end of the tournament. Maybe not? Everybody saw who was crowned the National Champions the night before. I never felt like my vote was going to take away the national championship. I recognize UConn as the national champions.

The one good thing is that I have laughed at my self at this. I never take the negative or the positive too serious to be honest with you. It is over a poll for goodness sake. I still like doing it and have fun doing it. They are fun to have because we get to talk about teams that are doing well and on occasion we get to put in teams that not everyone is looking at because we are so fixated on the super conferences. VCU. Coastal Carolina. BYU. I feel good about the fact that we look at it very seriously. We look at how teams are doing and how they have fared. We truly consider every team in the country before we put a vote in. We have done it the right way.

There are a tremendous number of people who have sent positive messages. They support me in their mind for having the guts to do something like this. I told my players that standing up for your beliefs and your convictions are part of who you become as you become a man. Don’t let people talk you out of something just because it is not the norm. If you believe in something, don’t be afraid to take a stand. People will respect you more for standing up for your beliefs.

Mike Adras’ Final USA Today Coaches Poll…1. Ohio State; 2. Kansas; 3. Connecticut; 4. Butler; 5. Pittsburgh; 6. Duke; 7. Kentucky; 8. Arizona; 9. Florida; 10. North Carolina; 11. Notre Dame; 12. San Diego State; 13. BYU; 14. Purdue; 15. Texas; 16. Syracuse; 17. Wisconsin; 18. Louisville; 19. VCU; 20. Richmond; 21. Florida State; 22. Marquette; 23. Temple; 24. Kansas State; 25. Gonzaga.

Friday, April 1, 2011

March Madness Has Been Awesome, Baby!

Head Swimming and Diving Coach Andy Johns gives his take on the NCAA Basketball Tournament and upcoming Final Four this weekend. Johns recently completed his 15th season at the helm of the program, leading the program to a third-place finish at the WAC Championships last month.

I love March.  My birthday is in March, Spring Break, the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships, St Patrick's Day and the NCAA men's basketball tournament.  The Big Dance. The Show. March Madness.
I'm a big fan of college basketball. But the tournament is awesome, baby!  Upsets and underdogs are what really make it so exciting.  We've yet to see a 16 seed beat a No. 1 seed; but I can't wait until it happens.  And I think that what makes the first two rounds even more exciting is the sheer volume of games - 40 games over about a 40 hour period.  That's a lot of basketball.  By the time this past weekend came around, there were only 12 games in the same time period.  I'm already feelings the signs of withdrawal with, what, only two games on Saturday and one game on Monday left in the entire college basketball season? Do you realize that less than one week from now, we're going to have to wait until sometime in October for some Midnight Madness somewhere in the Midwest?  Are you kidding me?

It seems that this year is no exception to the Madness.  Everyone is talking about officiating.  I think we have such an advantage over the refs who have to make split-second calls, and most of the time they get it right, where as we sit in our living rooms and TiVo it and super-slow mo it and then we're still not sure what the right call is.  But it's interesting that for all the fans and media experts who say "let 'em play, let the players decide the game, oh, that should have been a no-call in that situation", they were all very quick to agree with officials and say "a foul is a foul" and you officiate and play the whole game the same way". 

Brad Stevens, the young stud of a coach at Butler, was certainly letting the ref know he disagreed with his call that put the Pitt player at the line with 2.2 seconds to go.  And then .8 seconds later he was telling the same ref what a great call he made. (You can guess what former NAU assistant Jamie Dixon thought of each call, too). 

Upon further review, it was pretty clear both calls had been correct - and both times the players did decide the outcome of the game while the referees called the games as they should.  I think what we all wanted, in that moment, and what I think no one really ever mentioned, was to just be able to watch 5 more minutes of basketball.  OT! A little free basketball for everyone.  And let it be settled by the players with good officiating, of course!

VCU and Butler have both made it to the Final Four. Wow! Nice April Fool's joke!  I got the VCU Rams over the Kentucky Wildcats for the National Championship.

See you on deck,
Coach Andy Johns

Friday, February 11, 2011

OSLO, Norway – Former NAU women's soccer player and the current women's soccer CoSIDA/ESPN Academic All-American of Year Kristi Andreassen is in Oslo, Norway playing soccer and taking classes at the University of Oslo. Andreassen, who's family hails from Norway, sends us her final blog entry as she experiences the culture of her native land and prepares for the rest of her time abroad.

Picture: Kristi on Karl Johans St in downtown Oslo. The road leads directly to Det Kongelige Slott, which is the Norwegian Royal Palace and serves as the main residence of Norwegian King Harald V (seen at the end of the road in the distance).

Blog - Week 4

In the past week, I have had to make some important decisions.  I have decided to play for Øvervoll Hosle, a team in the division below Røa.  Even though the team overall is at a lower level than I am used to, I think it will still be a fun experience!  I also think that I can possibly help them move up a division this season.  That is my next goal!  Finding work in Oslo is very difficult for me because I am still not fluent in Norwegian.  There are very little jobs available for American students.  Luckily, my soccer experience has landed me a job at the local soccer club.  Next week, I will hopefully start training some younger soccer teams.  This is the perfect job for me because I can learn Norwegian from the kids and I can help them learn English.  Also, I love working with children and teaching soccer!  School has started to speed up and my brain is full of new information!  My Norwegian is coming along, but I still have more practice and learning to do.

Even though I am having a great experience out here, I have realized how much I miss Flagstaff, NAU, my soccer girls, and of course, my family!  At the same time, this is such a great opportunity for me and I plan on making the best of it.  While I am here, I plan on doing a lot of traveling to different European countries including Paris, France to visit my cousin, Krakow, Poland to visit my other cousin, and Alicante, Spain with the soccer team!  I also have planned a 4 week long Eurorail trip through Europe with my sister this summer, while catching some Women’s World Cup games in Germany.  There are still a lot of things to look forward to while I am away in Norway! Thanks for reading my blog!


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Andreassen in Oslo: Blog Entry Two

OSLO, Norway – Former NAU women's soccer player and the current women's soccer CoSIDA/ESPN Academic All-American of Year Kristi Andreassen is in Oslo, Norway trying out with professional women's soccer club Røa and taking classes at the University of Oslo. Andreassen, who's family hails from Norway, will be sending updates stateside as she experiences the culture of her native land. Here is her second entry:

Picture: Kristi's first outdoor practice with Røa on the frozen fields of Oslo.

Weeks 2-3

The past two weeks have been full with school, soccer, observation at a physical therapy clinic, and spending time with my family. School has picked up pace, and I have been learning a lot! Unfortunately, you cannot learn a language in three weeks and I still have so much more to learn. In the house, we have started to use more Norwegian and I must use the Norwegian word if I know it. Soon, my uncle says that he will no longer speak English to me, Ah!

Soccer practice during the past two weeks has been really tough, and I hit the wall this past week. My legs did not want to work anymore and I was completely exhausted! This typically happens during preseason at NAU as well, and happens to everyone! Last weekend, I had the chance to play the whole game for Røa at center back, my position. We played a team in Division I, which is one level below the top series. We played outside and all had a hard time kicking the ball well due to frozen feet! It was still a lot of fun and we won the game. We were missing a lot of girls because they were at training camp with the Norwegian National Team. Unfortunately, after three weeks of tryouts, I did not make the final cut for the Røa team for the upcoming season. I was disappointed to find this out, but I knew that I took a risk by trying out for the best team in Norway (literally, they are the best in the professional league). On the positive side, the coach truly believes that I have potential and wants me to continue playing so he can keep his eye on me. Also, I am proud that I was able to train with the best players in Norway for three weeks! The coach could have cut me from the team earlier!

This is the next part of my adventure! I need to decide if I want to try out for another top series team, or maybe play on a team in the lower division, or maybe not play soccer and get a job and travel during my semester abroad. I have a couple of coaches that are interested and want me to play for them, but I have to make sure that this is what I want to do. The possibilities are endless and there are so many exciting opportunities for me here!

Last week, I started observing at a physical therapy clinic. I really wanted to do this because I wanted to compare techniques the therapists use here compared to the therapists that I have observed in Arizona. So far, I have noticed that there are many similarities, but also some major differences. I will not bore you with these details!

I have really enjoyed spending time with my family here, since normally I never get to see them! They are all very supportive and just want me to have a good time while I am here. The city of Oslo is very interesting and beautiful. It is a very old city and has many historical buildings. I love historical buildings and learning about the history of my culture. Andre (Luciano), the NAU head soccer coach, came to visit! He started his trip in Bergen to do some recruiting, and then made his way to Oslo. We met up for some coffee and lunch at Aker Brygge, a harbor in Oslo. I really enjoyed his company and catching up! Even though I miss all of my teammates in Flagstaff, I decided that I do not miss spring season and early morning workouts! Andre’s visit was short, but I think he was charmed by the city and will come back again for vacation!

In my next blog, I will talk about the decisions I have made and how I will be spending my time abroad!


Friday, January 21, 2011

Former NAU Soccer Star Andreassen Playing Professionally in Norway

OSLO, Norway – Former NAU women's soccer player and the current women's soccer CoSIDA/ESPN Academic All-American of Year Kristi Andreassen just completed her first week in Oslo, Norway playing with professional women's soccer club Røa. Andreassen, who's family hails from Norway, will be sending updates stateside each week as she experiences the culture of her native land. Here is her first entry:

Picture: Kristi's first indoor practice with Røa in Oslo and the Røa football club logo.

Week 1 (January 13- 20)
After a 10-hour flight to London, a 2-hour layover at the Heathrow-London airport, and a 3-hour flight to Oslo, my dad and I finally made it! We were greeted with big smiles by my uncle. This is the start of a new and exciting experience! As usual, I was starving, but luckily there were Norwegian waffles waiting on the table for me to eat (my favorite!). My dad, uncle, my uncle's wife Hanne and I enjoyed the waffles and good conversation, and then, soon after, we all went to bed. The rest of my first week was super busy! There were many things that needed to be taken care of before my dad left including setting up a bank account, cell phone account, student ID, and public transportation card. We were also busy with soccer- one of my main reasons for moving to Norway.

I was super nervous for the first practice with the Røa football club, a professional women's team which just won the top series championship. It was very interesting. Soccer training here is very similar to soccer training at NAU. Soccer is a universal language! We used a lot of the same drills, but the main difference was speed. The girls on Røa are so skilled and pass the ball around very fast. I felt like I was chasing the whole time and tired pretty quickly. All of their passes are mostly played in one touch and two touches; rarely did anyone hold on to the ball for more than two touches. The passing patterns are more complicated than I have ever done and make you think while moving and playing the ball quickly. One of the hardest things at practice is the language barrier. Most Norwegians speak English but are too shy to use it, so everything at practice was in Norwegian. Luckily, a couple of the girls were kind enough to translate for me!

As the week went on, I improved and started to feel more comfortable with the team and coaches. I experienced playing outside during the cold and dark Norwegian winter and played on ice! Everyone was slipping throughout practice, but it was still very fun. The coach invited me to play for the first match, which was very exciting. I got to watch the team play from the bench and learned how the coach wants us to play. For the second half, I played center midfield with the opposing team because one of their girls got sick and they did not have any substitutes. Even though I did not get to play for my team or in my position, I was very happy to get some playing time and I still got to experience the pace of the game!

I also started school this week at the University of Oslo, where I am taking a course in Norwegian! The class is designed for immigrants who want to learn the language and even though I am not an immigrant (yes, I am a Norwegian citizen), I thought it would probably be a great class for me to take! I am really excited to learn, and hopefully I will be fluent in Norwegian soon. On top of soccer and school, I am looking forward to trying new things, especially new foods. One thing that I have tried is sushi. Yes, I have had sushi back home, but sushi there does not compare to sushi here! Sooooo good!!! I always hated shrimp, but not anymore. The shrimp here is different than back home and definitely better!

I have already experienced so much, and I am looking forward to experiencing more! A new blog will be posted about every week!

Bye for now!